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William Jackson

Sam Allardyce has Leeds United wildcard to play as breakout moment hinted at

Prior to this week, it would have been fair to say Georginio Rutter was Leeds United’s forgotten man. The club record signing has failed to make the desired impact since his January switch from Hoffenheim and he has struggled for senior game time as a result.

Rutter has made 10 appearances for Leeds but just one has come from the start and he has been left unused in six of the club’s last nine Premier League games. As such, it seemed as though his input would be severely limited over the last three fixtures as the Whites battle desperately for Premier League survival.

That might still be the case, but his eye-catching outing for the club’s Under-21s on Monday in front of Sam Allardyce will have done his hopes of senior minutes over the final few weeks no harm at all. The forward was a real livewire for the young Whites, helping them seal their spot in the Premier League 2 Division 2 play-off final with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa at Elland Road.

Read more: Sam Allardyce faced with Leeds United decision that could make or break survival hopes

It was his brightest showing in a Leeds shirt since signing and although it came at a youth level, it will have given him a much-needed boost in confidence as a challenging campaign draws to a close. Of course, Leeds didn’t agree to pay a fee thought to be in the region of £35m for a player to feature in their second string and a lot more will have been expected of the Frenchman.

United have reached a point in the season where one moment of magic could be the difference between survival and relegation, though, and Rutter might just have earned the chance to try to provide it. Any lasting impact he can make at this stage could go a long way towards paying off that eye-watering price tag and relieving some of the pressure that has clearly come with it.

Rutter is still very young, obviously, but there’s no better time to announce yourself to the English game and produce a breakout moment. Allardyce will be more than aware of his situation but having made the effort to watch him in person for the first time, he’ll certainly be more confident about throwing him into action against either Newcastle United, West Ham United or Tottenham Hotspur.

It seems highly unlikely that the youngster will be given a start in any of those games at this point, but a run out off the bench looks a real possibility now. He played up front for the U21s on Monday night and combined well with the likes of Mateo Joseph, Sonny Perkins and Sean McGurk. That would likely be his preferred position in the senior side, providing an attacking outlet with the help of a strike partner, but he is also able to play out wide if needs be, stepping in with speed and looking to make things happen.

Leeds are two points adrift of safety right now and unless something changes they will be playing Championship football next season. The club needs every member of its squad to step up over the remaining three games and given the chance, Rutter might just be the man to produce that wildcard moment.


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